It’s always nice when our work gets attention, and even nicer when it’s favourable, so we were very pleased to see the review of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde on the Book Blog. As well as being well-researched it features a number of nice photos of the book.
Posts Tagged ‘letterpress’
On 20 and 21 January everything on our poster website, www.letterpressposters.co.uk, will cost only £25.00 plus postage and packing, a reduction of 50% on many items.
What are you waiting for?
Henry Robertson Bowers was a member of Robert Scott’s second Antarctic expedition, and one of the party of five who reached the South Pole in January 1912. He kept a diary throughout his time in Antarctica. It is now the property of the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge, who are publishing it for the first time. We are delighted that they have chosen us to print the book. It will be set in Monotype Imprint, issued by the Monotype Corporation in 1912.
The book is currently being planned. It will probably be set in 10/11 point, and we’re doing tests, calculations and estimates to decide on paper and number of pages.
We intend to Tweet about the project as it progresses.
At the end of February we wrote that we were having the cylinder of our Heidelberg SB renovated. We were premature. The engineer did come, and a series of height measurements showed that the cylinder was too worn to be worth repairing. It would have to be replaced. We talked to a couple of specialist engineers, and the offer we liked best was for a thorough inspection of our present machine to see if it was worth spending more on it. So, at the beginning of March, Mark came down from Senior Graphics. He told us about broken pinion teeth and worn compression screws. Even more expensive, and if the work was done there were still other things that could go wrong. The bullet was bitten, and we ordered a fully refurbished, part-exchange replacement.
Yesterday was the big day, and our picture shows Mike from Seniors guiding the new machine through the doorway. Clicking on the picture will take you to our Flickr album of the old press being taken out and the new one coming in.
We’re particularly pleased that we’ve got a press that was previously used by Gwasg Gregynog. We are assured that it was in beautiful condition when Mike took it out, and he has stripped it right down, replaced what was worn and fitted new electrics. It looks, and smells, like a new machine.
Swapping the machines over only took a couple of hours, but then the guards and tables that had been taken off for transit had to be put back on, and the lovely new set of rollers put in. It’s a fiddly job, and probably the longest single part of the whole operation. We were finally ready for a test print in the middle of the afternoon.
Was it all worth it? The test printing was very promising. We used a forme that had already been printed on the old press, and we got to a point where it was looking very good without a single piece of make ready. We had previously spent the best part of two hours making it ready. We ran twenty or thirty sheets through twice, and the register was so good that the two printings couldn’t be seen under a magnifying glass. Running a few jobs over the next few days will tell us whether it’s living up to our high expectations.
We really like dead register, which probably makes us printing nerds. The register marks in the picture have been hit twice, and it’s hard to make out the two marks even under a linen tester. It’s no surprise that our Heidelbergs are that accurate, as we can, and have, used both of them for four colour process.
The job, by the way, is business cards for architects AHMM, which also have their company initials reversed out of a blue solid on the reverse. The Heidelberg cylinder takes that in its stride too.
We’re having some more work done on that press. Having had the bed renovated, it’s now the turn of the cylinder. There’s an engineer coming tomorrow who we hope is going to electro-plate it to bring the areas that are slightly low back up to standard. He says they get them better than new. We can’t wait.
Here are the book blocks for The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, which Hannah Byles is binding for us. We had the printed sheets machine folded, and Hannah has sewn them all and stuck on the endpapers. They’re trimmed down and ready to be cased in black cloth. Then we have until the launch on 17 November to tip in the illustrations.
There’s going to be a lot happening around here over the next few weeks.
We’re really pleased to be part of the second St Jude’s in the City at the Bankside Gallery, 48 Hopton Street, London SE1 9JH. Nine of our posters are being framed for exhibition at the moment. There will also be unframed copies in browsers, so we have a lot of wrapping in celophane to do. The show runs from the 10th to the 21st of November, and the gallery is open from 11 am to 6 pm.
Then on 17 November we’re launching our new edition of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, with Angela Barrett’s wonderful illustrations. That’s happening at Few and Far, 242 Brompton Road, London SW3 2BB from 10 am to 7 pm.
Next is a show at St Bride Library on 19 November to accompany Letterpress: Forward Thinking. Phil and Nick will be talking about our Monotype installation at the conference in full, gory, technical detail. Other speakers include Jon Kielty, Ross Shaw and Patrick Randle, all ex-Hand & Eye, and Sandro Berra, director of the wonderful Tipoteca Italiana. The previous letterpress conference at St Bride was enormously successful and was sold out long in advance, so book your tickets now.
And from 10 December to 22 January there is the Reverting To Type exhibition organised by New North Press at Standpoint Gallery, 45 Coronet Street, London N1 6HD. It will be a major show which will showcase the work of twenty contemporary letterpress practitioners from around the world, with contributions from three leading art colleges and the first eight in an ongoing series of prints made by New North Press with especially invited collaborators.
We are great admirers of the Whittington Press, and it is always a privilege to take part in their open day. It has the refreshing effect of reminding us why we do what we do. We feel at home with their FAG proofing press, and it’s great to give visitors a chance to print something on it themselves. Last year we were making a lot of posters, so we designed one for the show and took the forme with us. This year we wanted to take something we had cast.
There were several jobs to cast on Friday, in two or three different sizes, and the most convenient order in which to do them was with the Whittington job last. It all went well, and by about 5 pm Nick had everything set up and ready to go. Then he was hit on the arm by a large splash of metal. There’s a a lot of cleaning up to do after a splash to get the machine to cast properly once more, often involving cleaning out the mould. Maybe it was the time of day, or maybe it was our inexperience, but we could not make any usable type after that. First metal was leaking from the join between the mould and the matrix. Then the sorts were falling over in the type channel. By about 6 Phil thought he’d better start hand setting the same copy as insurance. He finished correcting it at about the same time as Nick brought the caster into line and and finished casting, so we could take the machine set version with us. We didn’t get out of the workshop until 9.30, though.
And the copy? We used a short excerpt from Eric Gill’s Autobiography:
And lettering has this very great advantage over the other arts; at its very base, conjoined and inseparable, are the fair and the fit – most obviously useful and depending for its beauty upon nothing but man’s musical sense. The shapes of the letters do not derive their beauty from any sensual or sentimental reminiscence. No one can say that the o’s roundness appeals to us only because it is like that of an apple or of a girl’s breast or of the full moon. We like the circle because such liking is conatural to the human mind. And no one can say lettering is not a useful trade by which you can serve your fellow men and earn an honest living. Of what other trade or art are these things so palpably true? Moreover it is a precise art. You don’t draw an A and then stand back and say: there, that gives you a good idea of an A as seen through an autumn mist, or: that’s not a real A but gives you a good effect of one. Letters are things, not pictures of things.
Working with the Monotype composition caster has shown us just how sensitive it is to air pressure. Air is used to raise metal pins that determine how far the die case can move in each cycle, and therefore which character is cast. If the pressure is too high the wrong pins can be raised and an incorrect character is cast. If the pressure is too low the pins may not rise, or rise too slowly, and again, the wrong character is cast.
We tried fitting a second regulator to the air supply in an attempt to maintain even pressure. It did help, but we were still getting more typos than we were happy with. We thought that the trouble might be that there were two air pipes: one to control the pins and the other to cool the die case. Both were positioned after the new regulator. Changing it round (and buying some jubilee clips that tighten up without breaking) so that the cooling tube comes off before the second regulator has made an enormous difference.
That’s not to say that everything is perfect now. This week the pump kept sticking, and we had an enormous splash of molten metal, which meant dismantling the mould to clean it out. Nick, who is doing most of the casting, thinks that now that we’re running the machine 2-3 days a week it’ll bed in and these problems will diminish.